Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has issued an alarming fitness update on midfielder Abou Diaby after admitting the midfielder's body is struggling to cope with the demands of playing Premier League football.
Wenger had hoped to build his revamped midfield around the talents of his leggy Frenchman this season, but the Arsenal boss has hinted that his future at the top level of the game could be under threat as he continues to battle his injury demons.
"The situation for Diaby is so frustrating and for us as well we started the season well with him in the team and since he has been out we have felt it," he said of the 26-year-old who has managed to play just nine Premier League games in the last two seasons.
"He balances our team as he has stature and presence physically when he is there, but clearly his injury problems are a concern.
"I can tell you he has been everywhere in the world to be assessed. There is an explanation. He is quick, strong, has good stamina, good resistance to repeat, but his muscle strength is not good enough to deal with that. Sometimes little fibres go in his muscles, this is basically his problem.
"When you play every three days, you cannot rebuild your strength as you need to recover. When you don't rebuild your strength, through the games you burn your fibres a bit and become weaker and weaker, so that means he gets injured.
"The second reason for his problems of course is his ankle. Since he was slaughtered at Sunderland, his mobility in his ankle has been affected."
Wenger's reference to Diaby's "slaughtering" dates back to the injury he sustained after a poor tackle from Sunderland defender Dan Smith back in May 2006, with the Arsenal boss conceding his ongoing fitness issues are difficult for Diaby to cope with.
"Of course mentally it is difficult to deal with it when Abou looks at his career in the past six years," added Wenger. "He is a top guy, conscientious, he cares about everybody, but it is difficult when he is injured so much."